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Minute Paper / Muddiest Point

Ways of facilitating a Minute Paper or Muddiest Point activity in a physically-distanced learning space

Time and Effort

Instructor Prep TimeLow
Student Activity TimeLow
Instructor Response TimeMedium
Complexity of ActivityLow


Minute Paper/Muddiest Point has students write a quick response to a question to help instructors gain insight or understanding of content. Questions could include: “What was the most important thing you learned today?“; “What important question remains unanswered?”; or “What was the muddiest point in _______ ?


Use it when you want...

  • To facilitate students’ recall of content they have learned,
  • To help them self-assess their understanding of the material,
  • To focus, collect, and organize their thoughts around a topic before a discussion, or
  • To discover which points students are having difficulty understanding to guide further instruction.

What students will need


The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Minute Paper/Muddiest Point active learning activity within a classroom with a physical distancing layout.


  • Identify a concept in a lecture, article, video, or a gap in knowledge identified through a prior activity (e.g., quiz or online discussion).
  • Craft a question to which students will respond in class. The question should be difficult enough to elect careful thought or reflection, but not too difficult that the response would not fit on a half-sheet of paper. Try to answer the question yourself.
  • Decide when the activity will take place (beginning, middle, or end of the class).
  • Plan to set aside five to ten minutes of class for this activity, as well as time later to discuss the results.


  • Introduce the activity by presenting the question to which students will respond.
    • Option 1: Send students to a shared Google Doc (one that does not require users to log in (to ensure anonymity). Tell students to use the Google Docs document to write their responses to the prompt.
    • Option 2: Send students to a Google Form that does not require users to log in (to ensure anonymity). Tell students to use the Google Form to write their responses to the prompt.
    • Option 3: Send students to use their laptops/mobile phones to enter the Top Hat course space. Present a Top Hat discussions question that is set up for anonymous posts. Tell students to write their responses to the prompt there.
  • Let students know how much time they have to complete the activity (usually two to five minutes is sufficient). Explain the kind of answers you want (words, phrases, or short sentences), and how you will use the information, and when they can expect your feedback.


  • If collected, review papers.
  • Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting. 

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • Classroom furniture is not to be rearranged to facilitate activities. If you need a different general assignment classroom to meet your instructional needs, contact your curricular representative.
  • If students are to move around the room during an activity, consider the mobility, location, equipment, and furniture needs of all students.
  • The physical distance between students (particularly in large lecture halls) may make it difficult for students to hear one another when they are asked to speak.
  • This same physical distance may increase the noise level in the room as students try to speak to one another. This noise level may cause issues for some students. To this end, it is recommended that group size be limited to pairs (ideally) or triads at most. Activities requiring larger group sizes should utilize text-based chat solutions like those found in Zoom.
  • The technologies recommended here should meet most campus accessibility requirements. However, you should check with the McBurney Disability Resources Center for guidance on any specific accommodations for your students.

Technical Documents

Video Examples

[coming soon]


Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 148-158.

See Also:

Keywords:minute paper, muddiest point, physical distance, active learning, prior knowledge   Doc ID:104087
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Remote Instruction
Created:2020-07-16 16:22 CDTUpdated:2021-06-29 10:10 CDT
Sites:Remote Instruction
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